School For Seduction


Reviewed by: Gary Duncan

Italian beauty Sophia (Kelly Brook) graduates from a posh Neapolitan finishing school and hotfoots it to Newcastle. Not the most obvious career move, you suspect, but the mysterious Sophia is on a mission - to teach the art of seduction to the good ladies of Geordieland.

"Confidence," she announces, "that is the true art of seduction. A confident woman is a powerful woman. Master this and the world is at your feet."

It's an interesting premise and there are some amusing, if fairly predictable, set pieces as our fish-out-of-water Geordie lasses get the low-down on how to romance their husbands and boyfriends, even if this doesn't seem to amount to much more than learning how to walk, how to sit down and how to unroll a pair of stockings.

School For Seduction was written with Brook in mind and the much-maligned former host of Channel 4's Big Breakfast just about pulls it off, despite her ropey Italian accent. She looks the part and bears more than a passing resemblance to a young Sophia Loren and when she's strutting her stuff, she's very convincing. But her range is limited and at times looks uncomfortable under the spotlight. We're led to believe that there's more to Sophia than meets the eye - the soundtrack includes a nightclub rendition of The Great Pretender, just in case we haven't cottoned on - but Brook struggles to convey this. She does wrinkle her beautiful brow every now and then, but that's about as far as the emotions go.

The best bits come from old hands Tim Healy and Margi Clarke, as bickering husband and wife Derek and Irene. Inspired by Sophia, Irene plans a romantic evening in and offers to cook ravioli. Derek makes a face and says he doesn't want ravioli because it looks like "little bags of sick".

There are also strong performances from newcomers Daymon Britton, as the laddish Mark, Derek and Irene's son, and Jessica Johnson, as hard-nosed Donna. Even Donna succumbs to Sophia's spell, and in one of the funniest scenes, we see her practicising her pout in the mirror as she tries to imitate Sophia. Later, eager to impress Mark in the pub, she foregoes her normal vodka-and-coke and nonchalantly orders a glass of wine. For Donna, you feel, this is the height of sophistication.

There are plenty of laughs and the story moves quickly along, but every now and then it hits a wrong note. Mark and Donna both talk about "finding themselves" and doing something "worthwhile" with their lives and it sounds mechanical, like a clumsy attempt at adding gravitas to the proceedings.

Some of the supporting roles begin to grate after a while. This is a film about girl power, and that's fine, but what about the guys? Craig (Neil Stuke) dotes on his Italian sports car, but ignores his wife. Derek would rather play a round of golf than play around with Irene. Kelly (Emily Woof) is single, but has a creepy boss who undermines her at every opportunity. They're chick-flick cardboard cutouts and, by the end, indistinguishable.

Reviewed on: 02 Dec 2004
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School For Seduction packshot
Romantic comedy about an Italian temptress who teaches the art of seduction to a group of Geordie women.
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Director: Sue Heel

Writer: Sue Heel, Martin Herron

Starring: Kelly Brook, Emily Woof, Dervla Kirwan, Jessica Johnson, Margi Clarke, Neil Stuke, Daymon Britton, Jake Canuso, Nick Whitfield, Tim Healy

Year: 2004

Runtime: 104 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: UK


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